The Norwegian Environment Ministry has issued a communique saying it will not allow the import of farmed salmon from Scotland for aquaculture in Norway, citing fears escapees could “further weaken” the country’s wild salmon.
While the announcement followed the mass escape of 50,000 Marine Harvest Atlantic salmon last week in a country already battling relatively high escapee counts, the Ministry was, in fact, following up on a blocked-permit letter sent to salmon breeder, Hendrix Genetics Aquaculture, denying the company in a 22-page letter permission to import Scottish salmon roe. In April 2016, Hendrix had appealed a decision that forbade the import of mixed Scottish-Norwegian roe.
“(Norway’s wild salmon) are already exposed to the negative effects of escapee Norwegian farmed salmon. The mixing of foreign genes will reinforce this negative effect,” stated Climate and Environment Minister, Ola Elvestuen.
The aim of bringing Scottish salmon into Norway would be to build up new breeding lines in the Nordic country for farmed fish. Elevestuen confirmed as much: “There’s a need for new blood lines in Norwegian aquaculture, but these must be based on Norwegian wild salmon genes.”
The Ministry pointed to Norwegian research which asserts that escaped farmed salmon partly Scottish in origin “increases the probability of negative effects on the Norwegian wild salmon population”.